Of all sports, I find baseball to be the most poetic. From the summer setting in which it’s played to the subtle strategies required for victory to the sweet sounds of the leather-bound ball careening around the park, there is much to be written about baseball. And there has been. You see, baseball is also a sport filled with clichés, sayings and shortcuts that have lost all meaning. Clichés are easy and when you go the easy route in sports, the losses will add up. Such is the case with Drew Johnson’s Pitcher and the Pin-Up.
Danny Foster (played by Johnson) is a promising pitcher who has lofty goals of making the Major Leagues. And while he’s great, he’s got a distraction that will either drive him to greatness or send him into baseball oblivion in which talent is squandered. The threat? His boyhood crush, Melissa (Corinna Harney), that he’s failed to do anything about. It’s like Forrest Gump and Jenny all over again, complete with abusive father (John Saxon), little kid cuddling and Melissa entering into a high-risk lifestyle as an adult.
As Danny works his ranks up the list of baseball prospects, Melissa parallels in the world of adult entertainment. What began with a couple of slightly naughty snapshots with her boyfriend, quickly becomes a pin-up shoot and suggestions of an adult film. This all appears to be done to build sympathy for Melissa and also make Danny look better by sticking with his love despite the setbacks he suffers from as he discovers the hard truths.
Pitcher and the Pin-Up suffers from being far too simplistic and predictable. It’s not just Danny and Melissa who come across as obvious cartoon characters, but the supporting characters aren’t any different. Danny encounters several teammates over the course of the film, but none of them offer anything new or insightful. There are grumpy managers, cocky teammates, groupies and the aforementioned drunk and abusive father. The plot follows a familiar path with many of the surface roadblocks one would expect a character to encounter on his way through the ranks.
All of this might have been somewhat forgivable if the characters were a little more interesting. But they’re not. They all feel like they’ve be pulled from a sketch book. Everything they do is bland in the way of originality. They make the same big speeches, throw their arms up in the air to symbolize the feeling of freedom and they perform the exact miracles you’d predict would need to happen.
I will say that Pitcher and the Pin-up has some heart and that it means well. I did sense good intentions but there’s not nearly enough to hold onto. Thirty years ago, Pitcher and the Pin-up might have seemed like edgy content. Today, it’s tame and boring in how it plays out. That’s exactly how non-baseball fans describe the game to me. I try to convince them otherwise. Sometimes it works but for some the blinders stay in place. Something tells me it’s not my blinders that are holding me back from enjoying this silly excuse for a baseball movie.